Category Archives: Culture

Are we compromising our message to fit our culture?

“Most Americans do not worship the gods of other religions. Instead, we worship comfort, control, power, or approval. We have an imbedded sense of entitlement. The culture goes to great lengths to build self-esteem and fuel an idolatrous look within to find strength, peace, and control. As you might imagine, the doctrine of original sin is offensive to this popular notion of self-esteem and the inherent goodness of people. So, some churches do not mention sin for fear it will turn off those they are trying to reach. The culture also says that we should get what we want when we want it. So, some churches proclaim a God who is akin to a genie in a bottle, simply waiting to grant our every wish and desire. In each of these instances, the church has forsaken their light and drifted into the shadows of compromise, thus losing the opportunity to rightly live out the command to be in the world, but not of it.”

Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, Eric Geiger, in Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

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Posted by on July 12, 2014 in Church, Culture, Quotes


How does one change the culture of the church?

Musings for a Thursday morning, or questions I wrestle with.

  • How does one change the culture of the church?
  • How do we become more outward focused instead of inward focused?
  • How do we develop a passion for the lost?
  • How do we develop a willingness to do whatever it takes rather than settle for the easy option?
  • How do we develop an abundance mentality instead of a scarcity mentality?
  • How do we help people become generous with their time, talents, and treasures?
  • How do we help get people looking forward and let go of the past?
  • How do we stop people from standing on the brake and resisting progress?
  • How do we encourage people to take greater risks rather than strive for comfort and status quo?
  • How do we encourage people to pursue Christ and stop dabbling with sin?
  • How do we help people stop making excuses for sin, compromise, mediocrity, etc?
  • How do we get people out of the pew and into ministry?
  • How do we help people objectively evaluate our ministries rather than fixate on the forms?
  • How does one bring about revival in a church?

Much to pray about.


Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Church, Culture


Tired of waiting?

Tired of waiting in line? Got better things to do with your time? Short of patience yet filled with places to be and things to do? Then hire a professional line sitter!

Hate long lines? Consider a professional line sitter” tells the story of Robert Samuel, who founded S.O.L.D. or Same Old Line Dudes, a professional line sitting company that fields requests to wait (and wait and wait) for everything from sneaker launches to concert tickets. “Whatever you want, we wait for it,” he said, provided you’re willing to pay $25 for the first hour and $10 for each additional half hour.

In a culture where time is worth more than money, it’s not surprising a business like this sprang up. However, I doubt very seriously whether or not God will allow someone else to take our place when he wants to work in our lives.

Psalm 130:5–6 (ESV)   I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

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Posted by on June 21, 2014 in Culture, News stories, Scripture, Time


How do people view the Bible?

Do people still read the Bible? Do people still believe the Bible? These questions and others are answered in the latest research from the Barna Group in “The State of the Bible: 6 Trends for 2014.” This year’s research reveals six trends in Bible engagement: from the Bible’s continued role as a cultural icon, to increased digital Bible reading, to a rise in skepticism toward Scripture, particularly among Millennials. Regardless of whether you are discouraged or encouraged, the results help to define the attitudes and trends of the society in which we live and are called to minister.

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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Culture, News stories


More than a codebook for behavior

Dr. Albert Mohler has written another thought provoking article entitled, “Moralism is Not the Gospel (But many Christians think it is).” He points out that moralism is the belief that the gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior. Moralism treats the Bible as simply a codebook for human behavior. In essence, it is a gospel of self-improvement. Mohler’s insights are similar to what Dallas Willard expressed when he pointed out that many Christians pursue a doctrine of sin management rather than true holiness (see chapter 2 in his book, The Divine Conspiracy).


Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Books, Culture, Spiritual disciplines


Bibles & Cell phones

Bible-and-coffeeI wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

iphone 2What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it as we traveled?

What if we used it in case of an emergency?

What if we upgraded it to get the latest version?

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Bible Study, Culture


Reversing a decision; Restoring convictions

After facing heavy backlash for their original decision, “World Vision Reverses Decision To Hire Christians in Same-Sex Marriages.” Their letter of announcement opened with this paragraph.

Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

Good for them. Their letter shows humility and brokenness. But you have to wonder what they were thinking when they made the decision in the first place. Did they think the evangelical community would not object? Now the question is, will they hold to this conviction once the gay community starts pushing back for reversing the decision. I’m guessing the story isn’t over yet.



Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Culture, News stories


What to do with World Vision?

Now that World Vision has decided to allow employees to engage in same sex marriages, how should Christians respond? Should we continue to support the organization financially? Should we cancel our support and move it to Compassion International or Food for the Hungry? What is a thinking Christian to do? These are the questions addressed in Matthew Lee Anderson’s thoughtful post, “On whether Christians should keep supporting World Vision.” He examines the issues from several angles and proposes some solutions. Thanks go to Tim Challies for posting the links. Well worth reading and considering prayerfully.

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Culture, News stories


When the pursuit of unity might lead to compromise

“World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages” -

World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian Charities.

Click on the link above to read the five page article in Christianity Today.

“Franklin Graham Statement on World Vision” -

“I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Click on the link above to read the full statement

“On World Vision and the Gospel” -

World Vision, an evangelical relief organization, announced today that they would now hire persons who are in same-sex marriages. The organization said, further, that this was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage.

This is no surprise, on one level. The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom.

But here’s what’s at stake. This isn’t, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth.

Click on the link above to read the full explanation from Russell D. Moore

WOW! On a personal level, I find World Vision’s announcement surprising, shocking, and saddening. I wonder what my friends who work there think of the decision. Time will tell what impact this decision will have on their ministry and on the Christian community at large.

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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Culture, News stories


Connecting people to Christ via social media

Yesterday, two guest couples checked out our church. One couple hailed from North Carolina. They were visiting friends in Three Rivers and looking for a church to attend while in our area. They Googled “expository preaching” and found First Central. They visited our website, listened to some of my sermons, and came eager “to hear the word preached.” I jokingly remarked, “That’s a scary thought. You listened to my sermons and still wanted to come.”

Another couple moved to Springfield last fall from Denver, CO. I remarked that Denver was my home town and we spent a few minutes talking about the city. They wanted to be closer to family members in the Boston area. They commented on my “beautiful family with adult children,” which indicated they visited our website. My wife, Carol, talked with them after the service and learned it has been a hard winter for them. They came from a large church with a traditional style of worship, hymns, and choir. They are looking for a similar type of church. They also remarked to Carol about how helpful our church website was.

We are hearing more stories that people do not search for churches in the Yellow Pages or newspaper. They Google and check out the church’s online presence (website, Facebook) before stepping foot on our campus. While we are doing a good job now, as evidenced by these two couples checking us out, we need to be even more mindful and intentional as we move into the future.


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